Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie was the first film released for Naruto Shippuden, and it was directed by Hajime Kamegaki. The film was released to Japanese theaters on August 4, 2007. Viz Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it on DVD on November 10, 2009. Viz's DVD release includes both an English dub and Japanese audio with English subtitles.
The plot of Naruto Shippuden: The Movie begins with a man named Yomi, along with his henchmen, attacking a shrine. Inside the shrine is the spirit of a demon named Moryo; this demon tried to take over the world and create his "Thousand Year Kingdom." Moryo's spirit was sealed away in the shrine before he could accomplish his goal. Yomi offers his body as a temporary vessel for Moryo until Moryo's original body can be retrieved; Moryo accepts. After enterting Yomi's body, Moryo commands Yomi and his henchmen to eliminate Shion, a priestess who can seal Moryo's soul away once more. Yomi and his group are given special chakra creatures in order to enhance their abilities.
The Leaf Village is asked for assistance to not only protect Shion, but to also try to stop the "stone army" that Yomi has sent to try to create a diversion. Tsunade sends Neji, Rock Lee, Sakura and Naruto as the team to protect Shion. The bulk of the film sees Naruto and the team's interactions with Shion, as well as the battles they must fight against Yomi's henchmen.
When it comes to films in the Naruto franchise, this is the first of the films that I have hard time seeing as an extension of the anime series. There are a lot more "supernatural" elements introduced in this film that haven't been seen previously in the franchise. There were times in the film that I almost thought that the director believed he was directing a Bleach film instead of a Naruto one. I basically have to view this movie as a kind of "alternate timeline" story in order to enjoy it better.
Also, for most of the film, I really didn't care about the character of Shion, due to how stuck up and bratty she was portrayed as for most of the film. While I understand that this is a common device used, it seemed like the elements that made more her likable came too late in the film. The only reason I didn't want to see anything happen to her was the fact that if she was killed, it would mean the end of the world. If it wasn't for that one fact, I really wouldn't have cared about what happened to Shion for the vast majority of the movie.
When it comes to the animation, the most glaring thing was the computer graphics used for the "stone army." When my husband and I both saw this, we decided that this CG would have worked great if this had been a live action film; however, since this was an animated film, this CG style just stood out way too much in comparison to the other animation in the film. After a while, whenever the "stone army" would appear on screen, my husband and I would joke that it was "the attack of the bad CG."
As for the actual DVD release, five extras were included. The first is labeled as "Original Japanese Movie Trailer." From the name, you would think there was only one trailer. However, this feature actually consists of 10 trailers with a total runtime of about six minutes. Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles provided for the Japanese audio, so you don't know what's being said unless you have some fluency in Japanese.
Next is "Hero's Come Back – Special Movie Version," which is the first opening theme song for Naruto Shippuden that accompanies a montage of the action sequences from Naruto Shippuden: The Movie. "Michi – Special Movie Version" is the first ending theme for Naruto Shippuden, and it is accompanied by a montage of emotional and comedic scenes from the movie.
There's also a line art gallery, which includes 30 pages of line art for the new characters that were introduced in Naruto Shippuden: The Movie. There is also four minutes' worth of Viz Media trailers included. While these may not be great bonus features, I'm grateful that we were able to even get this much for this DVD release.
While this has been my least favorite film in the Naruto franchise so far, I still have to say that if you want to own all of the Naruto material to complete you collection, then you need to buy this DVD in order to have a complete collection.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that I checked out through the King County Library System.